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What Do Zebras Eat – Zebra Diet & Feeding Habits

Zebras are wild animals that feed on plant products and play an important role in their ecosystem. They are one of the wild animals that do not eat meat. However, this guide would explain their diet and feeding habits more.

Are zebras Herbivores, Carnivores Or Omnivores?

Zebras are herbivores that graze on grasses. These African animals feed on grasses, leaves from bushes, and fruits. Zebra teeth keep growing because it wears down as they spend hours eating every day.

Zebras are usually found where there is enough vegetation to sustain them, and they can travel for 700 miles during dry seasons to find food.

What Do Zebras Eat In The Wild?

As herbivores, zebras eat tall grasses in the wild. Their stomachs cannot digest short grasses, so they go for the tall ones.

Zebras eat Bermuda grass, red grass, shrubs, twigs, bark, leaves, herbs, shoots, small trees, saplings, and fruits. These grasses do not have a lot of nutrients, so they spend hours eating to accumulate enough for their body.

What Do Zebras Eat In Captivity?

Zebras in captivity eat Timothy hay, alfalfa, salt licks, and formulated pellets with the necessary nutrients. They are also given sugar and fruits occasionally as treats.

In captivity, they are fed once daily because the nutrient in the hay given to them is high enough for their body. So eating hay once can help meet their daily nutritional needs. The grasses they eat in the wild contain salt, so those in captivity also require it.

Also read: Are Zebras Friendly? Why Aren’t They Domesticated?

Zebras grazing

How Do Zebras Get Their Food?

Zebras get their food in the wild by grazing on tall grasses that they can find. They use their front and back teeth to clip, crush, and grind the grasses when eating. When grasses are unavailable in dry seasons, they travel miles to find food, or they can eat bark and tree roots to survive.

How Do Zebras Eat?

Zebras use their front teeth to cut the grass while their back teeth help to crush and grind the food. Chewing for hours daily is tough on their teeth, so it keeps growing to replace them when necessary.

When grazing, they bring their heads close to the ground while some members of the herds keep their heads up to look out for predators to warn the rest of dangers.

When Do Zebras Eat?

Zebras eat during the day and night as they spend about 19 hours feeding on grasses. Many view them as both nocturnal and diurnal because they are active during the day and night.

Zebras are very social and move in groups or herds, protecting them from predators. They also take turns to look out for predators when eating to protect the herds from further dangers.

Also read: Are Zebras Dangerous and Aggressive?

Zebras in tall grass

How Much Do Zebras Eat?

Zebras, like other herbivores, eat 1.6-2.5% of their body weight which is about 16-20 pounds of grasses or hay daily. How much they eat varies from region to region, and it depends on the availability of plants that are edible to zebras.

They also rely on the water daily, so they stay close to rivers, streams, or lakes. Zebra mothers drink water twice daily and take over 3 liters when they go to a nearby stream.

Zebras Digestive System

Zebras use the cecal digestive system with hindgut fermentation. Their system does not have the ruminants four chambered stomachs, so the foods they eat go into their gut and digest through fermentation.

Their digestion rate is very fast, so they can eat dry grasses and get protein from them. This is why they are usually the first to go to places with dry grasses so they can eat them and make room for new ones to grow.

Where are Zebras in The Food Chain?

Zebras are in the second level of the food chain; above them are their predators, and below them are the grasses that they eat.

This makes them primary consumers, and their predators, like cheetahs, leopards, and lions, are secondary consumers. Zebras are not only hunted by other animals; humans also hunt them because of their beautiful skin.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Zebras Eat Meat?

Zebras are herbivores that eat plants and not meat. Their diet is strictly based on plant products like grasses, leaves, shrubs, barks, twigs, roots, and fruits.

Do Zebras Eat Grass?

Yes, zebras eat grasses. They eat a wide range of grasses rich in fiber and low in protein, and their stomach is designed to accommodate this food.

What Type of Grass Does Zebra Eat?

Common zebras eat red oat, Cynodon dactylon, Cenchrus ciliaris and Eragrostis Superba. Mountain zebras eat Heteropogon contortus, Setaria neglecta, Enneapogon scoparius, Themeda triandra and Cymbopogon plurinodis grasses. Grevy’s zebras eat Eleusine jaegeri and Pennisetum schimperi.

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